Marking the end of an unprecedented school year for both the university and the USC Alumni Association, the 78th Annual USC Alumni Awards drew a record crowd of nearly 800 Trojans and friends to downtown L.A.’s Westin Bonaventure on April 30.
The association’s premier event paid tribute to 10 distinguished members of the Trojan Family, including USC president C. L. Max Nikias and first lady Niki Nikias, who were awarded honorary alumni status.
In his welcoming remarks, USC Alumni Association chief executive officer Scott M. Mory referred to the “palpable buzz of excitement and anticipation” at USC and among alumni about the university’s future under the visionary leadership of Nikias.
Board of Governors president Carol C. Fox MS ’62 offered her own welcome, thanking all of the friends and supporters of the association. Their remarks set the tone for the evening, which unfolded in the hotel’s elegant California Ballroom.
The Asa V. Call Alumni Achievement Award, the university’s highest alumni honor, was presented to longtime university benefactor and trustee Ronald N. Tutor ’63, who has contributed naming gifts to the Ronald Tutor Campus Center and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering’s Tutor Hall.
In his acceptance speech, Tutor shared memories of his undergraduate days at USC and described his friendship with Nikias.
In addition to Tutor, seven other Trojans were recognized for their accomplishments and service. Called “a true champion on and off the field” by Fox, New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez ’09 received the inaugural Young Alumni Merit Award, acknowledging the achievements of alumni under the age of 35.
The other Alumni Merit Awards went to Larry S. Flax LLB ’67, LLM ’71, the co-founder and co-chief executive officer of California Pizza Kitchen, and Bryan Lourd ’82, a partner and managing director of Creative Artists Agency, a leading entertainment and sports agency.
Accepting his award, Lourd spoke of his enduring bond with his undergraduate mentor, former USC dean Joan Schaefer. Schaefer, who was in the audience, had encouraged Lourd to expand his horizons by studying art, music and literature.
Four of USC’s most devoted volunteers were recognized for their decades of service to the university and the Trojan Family.
George L. Pla MPA ’74, one of the founding members of the USC Latino Alumni Association, and Robert E. Plumleigh and Elizabeth Plumleigh MLA ’84, longtime supporters of several USC schools and organizations, received Alumni Service Awards.
The Fred B. Olds Award, recognizing Trojans for their extraordinary and unparalleled service to the university over an extended period of time, went to Joann Koll, a former chair of the university’s Alumnae Coordinating Council and current member of the USC Alumni Association Board of Governors.
In honoring president and Mrs. Nikias, Fox and USC trustee Dan Epstein ’62 presented them with two framed, gold-plated USC Alumni Association membership cards. Both membership cards were inscribed with the date of the president’s inauguration: Oct. 15, 2010.
In addition to the presentations, the event featured performances by USC Thornton School of Music students and the traditional, end-of-evening send-off by the USC Trojan Marching Band led by Art Bartner, along with the USC Song Girls and Spirit Leaders.